Sessions’ background check form omitted meetings with Russian – Politico
Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not include two meetings with the Russian ambassador on a security clearance form submitted late last year, but his aides say the information was left out because the FBI indicated it shouldn’t be listed.
Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said the form was completed by a Sessions staffer who initially listed all the senator’s meetings with foreign officials in 2016. However, the aide was told by the FBI that meetings Sessions held in his capacity as a senator did not need to be included, so it was taken off the form when filed, Flores said.
Story Continued Below
“The staffer was instructed by the FBI not to list any contacts related to Senate business,” added a second Justice Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The aide confirmed Sessions signed the form after the staffer prepared it.
FBI officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the advice the Sessions aide was allegedly given. Written instructions with the form say that meetings at foreign conferences attended on official business need not be listed, but the guidance doesn’t appear to include the broad exemption the FBI is said to have relayed.
Sessions found himself in hot water with Senate Democrats earlier this year after it was revealed he had met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak last year. Democrats said he should have disclosed the meetings at his confirmation hearing in January, but Sessions called his answers “honest and correct.” He said understood the questions he was asked to be about campaign-related meetings, while the encounters with Kislyak were related to Sessions’ role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sessions has recused himself from the FBI’s ongoing probe of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, but he did endorse President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this month to dismiss the man leading that investigation, FBI Director James Comey.